Melodrama fans have a lot of boos, hisses and hoorays saved up from the past year.
The time has come to let them fly free as Iron Springs Chateau reopens after more than a year of closure due to the pandemic. “Honesty Always Wins ... or ... This Mine is Mine” will open Friday at the Manitou Springs dinner theater. It runs through Oct. 2.
Technically, it’s not a new show — it ran for one night in March 2020 before being shut down. Two of the six cast members will reprise their roles from last year.
“We’re so excited,” said Iron Springs co-owner Lori Adams-Miller. “The actors are excited. We didn’t do auditions. We called veteran actors in February and said we don’t know if we’ll be able to do this, but we have to plan.”
The show, written by Manitou Springs playwrights and actors Vicki Kelly and Bruce Littrell, takes place in the mountains of Colorado, where two sisters and their mother run a cafe owned by the black-hearted villainess, Ena Pinch. When the evil woman evicts them, brainy accountant Pomeroy and beefy hero Big Buck Brawny make a plan to save the women and also win their hearts.
Included in the show is a sing-along intermission and a vaudeville-style musical revue featuring comedy, songs and dance.
“Melodrama is a lost genre. We take down that fourth wall so our actors react and interact with the audience, and so the audience is oohing and ahhing and booing and hissing and cheering,” said director Adams-Miller.
“If somebody in the audience makes a comment, they may stop and interact with whoever makes the comment. It’s a super fun genre. These actors know how to play it big, but not take it so far over the top that it becomes too cheesy.”
It was touch and go for Iron Springs last summer when the Manitou Incline was shut down. The theater, just down the mountain from the famously grueling staircase, relies heavily on the revenue brought in from the paid parking it offers hikers. That money has helped buy a roof, sidewalks, stairs, carpet, paint and furniture. Fortunately, grants and the reopening of the Incline in the fall helped ensure the theater would open again.
“We made a pact that every year the majority of our income would go back into the building,” Adams-Miller said. “We’ve been able to do that every year except last year. We’re excited to do a show even if we just break even this year.”
Adams-Miller knows a little something about melodrama, being as she starred in Iron Springs shows for 14 years before purchasing the theater in 2013 with her wife, Dolores Adams-Miller, and husband and wife Brian and Rebekah Ratterree. Rebekah also starred alongside Lori in the Manitou shows for many years.
Lori’s favorite part about being in an Iron Springs melodrama? The months-long run.
“You generally do 40 to 50 shows on a run,” she said. “Not only do you get paid, but you get to perfect that role and find out what audiences like and put in new bits. I’ve done theater where I’ve made people cry. That’s very powerful, but I would rather make them laugh.”
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